8 February 2013

South Africa: E Cape Patients Protest Over Poor Service

Patients and community members from this Eastern Cape village clashed with police during a march to the local office of the Department of Health where they delivered a memorandum of grievances about the health services in the area.

Locals are unsatisfied with the new facilities at the Village Clinic which had to be relocated to a new site last year because the provincial Department of Health failed to pay rent for the property where the clinic was housed.

In November last year the community was promised three park homes (ship containers often used as make-shift clinics) for the new clinic, but to date only one has arrived. There is also no electricity, running water or ablution facilities at the site.

With no running water, hygiene is poor at the clinic, and because there is no electricity, medicines that need to be refrigerated, such as vaccines, cannot be stored at the site.

Recently two tents were donated by St Elizabeth Hospital. One is being used as a nurses’ stations and the other to provide shelter in the waiting area.

The conflict first started in mid-January when community members and patients from the Village Clinic went to the police station to submit an application for a march to the Department of Health with their grievances.

According to a source, the police refused the application outright because the day before they failed to control a riot in the nearby town of Flagstaff. A week later the group went back to the police station with the same request, and was granted permission to hold the march.

Under heavy police guard, early in February the group marched to the local office of the Department of Health and handed the memorandum over to the sub-district manager, Mrs Ntlangulela, who promised to fax it the same day to her superiors.

The memorandum demands a response from the Department within 14 days, and the group is anxiously awaiting feedback.

Story by Mtshana Mvlisi, an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Lusikisiki in the OR Tambo health district in the Eastern Cape.

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